Freelancing inspiration to get you started
We asked a few freelancers how they started doing what they do. Read on to learn from their stories.
Fashion stylist Carla Villanueva
“After leaving work at a magazine I collected photos I was proud of (not all, mind you) and made a choice to not be employed or apply to a specific company for a while. Instead I shopped around my portfolio, rung up contacts in the industry and was very vocal about being in freelance. Half of freelancing is letting people know what you do – it’s not, “I sometimes style,” it’s, “I am a stylist.” I also used whatever free time I had doing personal projects, collaborating with photographers and makeup artists and friends, doing things I wanted to do rather than what a company wanted me to do. It was a real struggle being that poor, but still fun.
You’ll be surprised what ingenuity and drive can get you. Also, a certain amount of pushiness is required. If someone says, “oh I might need a stylist soon,” you have to follow up and try to find leads. Hopefully, eventually, people will recognise what you can do for them creatively and seek you out. I had to do things for free for about a year before I finally put my foot down, though. If you do too many things for free they stop paying you altogether. The free stuff should only be things you can creatively control – either for YOU or for something/someone you believe in.
This industry is about connections and accessibility as well. It’s important to meet people and make contacts, get their numbers, reach out to them if you want to work with them.”
DJ Javi Vargas
“Before i started, i never really thought about doing it for the money. I didn’t realize at the beginning that I would be able to sustain myself purely on gigs, until i found myself doing 2-3 of them weekly and i was like, “not bad.” Plus I got free food and drinks!
At the start, I was just so driven to share music that I loved and my own personal style and taste. I would often just find myself geeking out whenever I would stand beside my DJ friends while they kill it at a major club or festival gig. I would observe the DJ and the people’s responses equally.
I just took a leap when i felt like i was able to get ample practice to muster up the minimum amount of confidence needed to play in front of a crowd. From there the learning experience never stops and you just keep working on it and improving. And everything just keeps getting better and better.”
Graphic Designer Mika Aldaba
“I was already doing graphic design for my orgs in college, but my first ever project was from my aunt. It was a logo for HealthDev in Ateneo. After college, even while i was working full time, I’d still get projects every now and then. I transitioned to full time freelancing after my projects were big enough to sustain myself. I would just work a couple of projects for a few months then take a break and travel.
The best part about freelancing is you are your own boss on your own time. You can say no to clients, you can even fire them. But its not stable. You’re working twice as hard sometimes because you’re looking for new projects while working on your current ones. On bad months you have to take on projects you don’t really like for income.
Getting clients to pay up isn’t always easy. So during contract stage, I break the project into milestones. Every week or two weeks, I have a deliverable, and the client has to pay before we proceed to the next milestone. Also i do due diligence before taking on a client to make sure they look trustworthy.
To people who would be starting out my advice is to get yourself out there and do good work. So have a good portfolio, have memorable personal branding, network like crazy.”